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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

TRISK and MSA unite for film, discussion on sexuality and Islam

Published: April 16, 2010
Section: News

Jihad for love: Prof. Mitra Shavarini (WMGS) discusses the experiences of gay, lesbian and questioning Muslims at an event Tuesday cosponsored by TRISK and MSA.
PHOTO BY Paula Hoekstra/The Hoot

Triskelion and the Muslim Student Association(MSA) presented a screening of “A Jihad for Love” Tuesday in the Intercultural Center. The film, about homosexuality in Muslim countries, was part of Triskelion’s celebration of Gay Pride Month.

The event, organized by Kaamila Mohamed ’11 and Aziz Sohail ’13, was geared towards educating the student body about the struggles of gay and lesbian Muslims throughout the world.

Prof. Mitra Shavarini (WMGS) introduced the film and spoke about different outlook towards homosexuality in various Muslim countries, emphasizing one similarity: a “paralyzing” fear regardless of country or denomination. Shavarini teaches “Diversity of Muslim Women’s Experience,” which includes a section on homosexuality.

Shavarini also spoke about hope for reform and new interpretations of the Quran. She added that there is no direct mention of homosexuality in Islam’s holy book. However, there are rationalizations for many of the stories and their possible homosexual connotations but opponents of gay rights also use these stories to explain why they are not actually about homosexuality.

“A Jihad for Love,” written and directed by Parvez Sharma, tells the story of gay Muslims who refuse to give up either part of their identity, instead trying to reconcile their opposing halves. They discuss what it is like to be gay in countries like Iran, Egypt and Pakistan.

One man, Muhsin Hendricks, lives in South Africa and is struggling to open up dialogue about homosexuality and Islam. Even after being heavily criticized for his work, Hendricks managed to lead a discussion among Muslim social workers, mostly women, in his community.

“I have loved a woman. It was not a sin because my loving never hurt, I only loved,” one woman living in Paris said. She refused to show her face, but her shirt read in French “In the name of Allah, I love women.”

The screening was Mohamed’s idea, saying that the issue of homosexuality in Islam isn’t one that has been talked about on campus. She is the Member-at-Large of MSA and a co-founder and co-coordinator of Queer People of Color Coalition, a branch of Triskelion. Sohail is an incoming Executive Board member of MSA.